Breed History

The Standard Schnauzer (SS) is the oldest (and original prototype) of the three Schnauzer breeds. Since the Middle Ages, dogs very like today's Standard Schnauzer performed household and farm duties in Germany: guarding the family and livestock, ridding the farmyard of vermin, and protecting their owners as they traveled to market. These rough-haired, medium-sized dogs were descended from early European herding and guardian breeds and were not related to the superficially similar terriers of Britain.

In the mid-19th century, German dog fanciers began to take an interest in this useful native breed. Crosses were made with gray Wolfspitz and black German Poodle to produce the distinctive pepper and salt and black colors. At this time, the medium-sized dogs were also being crossed with other breeds to develop the Miniature and, later, the Giant Schnauzer.

Wire-haired Pinschers, as the breed was originally known, were first exhibited in Germany in the 1870s. The official German breed standard of that era describes a dog remarkably similar to the Standard Schnauzer of today.

By the turn of the century, the breed was becoming universally known as the Schnauzer, a reference to the breed's hallmark a muzzle (German: schnauze) sporting a bristly beard and moustache, as well as to an early show winner of that name.

The first importation of the Standard Schnauzer was apparently around 1900, but it was not until after World War I that the breed was brought into the United States in any significant number. The Standard Schnauzer has never been a popular breed in the USA, which is one reason why most puppies are bred by serious fanciers whose primary goal is the preservation and improvement of the breed.

In 1925, the Schnauzer Club of America was formed, with the club being split in 1933 to form the Standard Schnauzer Club of America (SSCA) and the American Miniature Schnauzer Club. A written standard of perfection describing the ideal Standard Schnauzer was approved by the AKC in 19--. It has been revised several times in the intervening years to further clarify the picture of the ideal dog.

The objectives of the SSCA include: to define the AKC standard for the breed, to serve as a source of breed information for the public, to advance and protect the interests of the breed, to promote the SS as a show, performance and family dog, to encourage sportsmanship among owners and fanciers, and to promote the formation of regional clubs.

There are now eight regional Standard Schnauzer clubs throughout the country. These local clubs provide considerable help to new owners with grooming and training their puppy, and hold programs and events throughout the year of interest both to novice and experienced owners of the breed.

Rescue: The SSCA and regional clubs also have Rescue programs for lost, homeless or unwanted SS. Details can be found on the Rescue page.

Today's Standard Schnauzer is a medium-sized working breed in the schnauzer/pinscher canine family. It is not a terrier and was not developed to "go to ground." SS are characterized by a robust, square, athletic build, a dense, wiry, harsh coat of black or pepper and salt and an energetic, intelligent temperament. Standard Schnauzers are sociable, alert, affectionate, protective and reliable in nature, with a good sense of humor. They are generally healthy, sturdy and long-lived with few hereditary illnesses. SSCA breeders check their stock for hip dysplasia, and most also screen for eye defects and other hereditary problems.

The breed is of true medium size, with males between 18-20" high at the shoulder, weighing 40-45 lbs, while females are between 17-19" high, weighing 35-40 pounds.

The Standard Schnauzer is not the breed for those who want a slow, placid dog or one that can be "fed and forgotten" for they insist on being part of the family activities and develop best when treated in this manner. They are outstanding companions known for their devotion and love of their family, and are not "one person dogs" but instead become a true family member. SS are particularly good with children, being playful and tolerant. At the same time, they are alert to any intruder which might threaten their home and family.

Standards are very intelligent and can be strong-willed. Owners must be prepared to train their new puppy from the beginning. Early Kindergarten Puppy Training and later, regular obedience classes, is the best approach.

The SSCA strongly recommends that dogs not used for breeding or those with inheritable problems be spayed or neutered. This avoids accidental breedings and reduces undesirable behaviors such as "marking", as well as possible diseases of the reproductive system. Neutered animals can compete in all AKC events except conformation shows.

Many SS participate in conformation and performance events (obedience, agility) where their trainability, alertness and enthusiasm serve them well. One growing area of interest among Standard owners is herding, for which most SS show real talent. A number of Standards now serve as Therapy Dogs, as Service Dogs for the physically-challenged, Search-and Rescue Dogs or as drug or bomb-detection dogs.

For those of you who would like more details about the development of the Standard Schnauzer, see the Standard Schnauzer Source Book, Volume I, Volume II, and Volume III.